Be a Seasonal Hiring Champion ... and Crack the Code of Gen Z
With summer comes warm weather and sunny skies, vacationing families and tourists, and, hopefully, increased foot traffic and business for your store. If you’re like many retailers, you’ve probably hired a few additional workers to meet the demands of the summer season. But are you ready for the holidays? It may seem early to start singing jingles and hanging tinsel, but many retailers are already looking ahead to hiring and onboarding seasonal staff to optimize the critical holiday shopping season — and this means taking a good look at the oh-so-critical Gen Z.
In a new survey by Kronos and Future Workplace, Gen Zers were asked what industries they’re interested in working in before entering full-time employment. The No. 1 answer: retail. The retail industry has traditionally been a popular choice among younger workers entering the workforce, and these workers provide critical labor for our industry. Therefore, it’s important to provide them with an engaging experience before they even step foot in your door. Here are four strategies to make your organization as attractive as possible to effectively round out year-round staff with seasonal Gen Zers.
Want Gen Z to Apply? Meet Their Insta-Expectations
First and foremost, make it easy and fast for applicants to apply. Mobile-first apps enable Gen Z to apply within minutes, speeding up time to hire. Applications can easily be completed while sipping a caramel iced latte in a coffee shop waiting for a friend to go on break. Gen Zers expect instant response from their latest Instagram post, and they’ll expect the same from you. In fact, according to the Kronos and Future Workplace survey, the biggest red flag for these workers is a slow or delayed response from a recruiter or hiring manager.
Instituting a streamlined application encourages qualified applicants to more seriously consider job opportunities. After all, your applicant experience reflects your employee experience. Clunky, paper-based applications signal outdated practices and processes. Modern technologies will not only attract job candidates, but provide a glimpse into what to expect as your retail ambassadors.
Use Technology to Empower Managers and Employees
Artificial intelligence (AI) is more than just the latest buzzword — it’s rapidly transforming the retail industry. Modern workforce management tools powered by AI can automate repetitive tasks, build better schedules, and process time-off requests with little to no manager intervention. For Gen Z, the first true digital natives, these tools are quickly moving from "nice to have" to deal-breakers.
However, as much as they rely on technology, Gen Z also craves human interaction. They want to trust their managers and expect to be trusted in return. In fact, survey results show 47 percent of respondents want managers to trust them; 40 percent expect managers to be supportive; and 35 percent want managers to care about them as a person. Modern technologies give time back to managers, and leaders walk that fine line between serving the customer and mentoring the employee.
Motivate With Real-Time Feedback
The annual performance review simply doesn’t make sense for a seasonal workforce, and Gen Z is thrilled to hear that. Like Millennials, Gen Z craves regular informal feedback sessions. Still, it can be unnerving to ask, “How am I doing?”, so organizations should seek out data-driven tools, such as real-time or ongoing feedback, that provide employees with a continuous look at their performance.
In addition to helping employees understand how they're performing, that continuous feedback will also give managers better insight into which employees they should consider bringing back for the next seasonal window. Which leads to the fourth and final tip …
Begin Recruiting for Next Season Right Now
Organizations that have successfully hired, onboarded and delivered a great employee experience to productive and reliable seasonal workers should immediately begin recruiting them for the next season. If they had a good experience with your place of work, they’ll be thrilled to come back — and with the right technology in place, it will be easy to do so. Make sure your HR system has created a comprehensive employee record so that those workers will be able to skip the re-application process and cut to the front of the line. Why make them fill out the same forms again and again when you could welcome them back like they never actually left?
The most successful companies analyze data to identify their top seasonal employees and work to maintain a pool of exceptional candidates year-round. Workers who feel valued and empowered — especially Gen Zers — are more likely to want to return. Whether your organization is tasked with hiring 10 or tens of thousands of employees during seasonal windows, leveraging modern technology to attract, onboard, engage, develop and retain seasonal employees will turn you into a seasonal hiring champion.
Amanda Nichols is senior manager, retail, hospitality, and food service practice at Kronos Incorporated, a leader in workforce management and human capital management cloud software solutions.
Amanda Nichols is senior manager, retail, hospitality, and food service practice at UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), a leader in workforce management and human capital management cloud software solutions.
In her role, Amanda has a keen eye on tracking and identifying trends that will shape the future of work. She regularly works with both clients and prospects to improve their workforce management and employee engagement strategies by mapping trends to business objectives.